May 16, 2004

"The 'Brown' decision and the resulting civil rights movement in the United States inspired and galvanized human rights struggles around the world. ... For my family, commemorating this anniversary is an opportunity to convey that at the heart of positive race relations is a sense of unity, respect and acceptance."

Cheryl Brown Henderson,

daughter of the Rev. Oliver Brown, plaintiff, Brown vs. Board of Education

"For me, like so many other children who were set to enter school for the first time in 1954, the Supreme Court decision in `Brown vs. Board' meant the realization of the nation's unkept promise of equal opportunity under the law for all people. It became, in essence, the threshold for the launching of a new era in all aspects of American life for a race of people who had suffered, endured and survived almost three centuries of slavery, oppression, deprivation, degradation, denial and underprivilege. While we pause 50 years later to celebrate and commemorate this historic decision, we are more challenged than ever to examine both the intent and the effect of such a landmark. In doing so, we are compelled as Americans from all walks of life to serve notice that the still-unmet promises of the `Brown' decision must become a national imperative. The gradual resegregation of our public schools and the unequal nature of public funding still require that we do more."

Kweisi Mfume,

president and CEO, NAACP

"We know now that you can achieve integration and you still don't get what we were driving for in the first place, which is a quality education. So `Brown vs. Board of Education' is a very important historical event that is a foundation and a requirement, but it doesn't finish the job."

Rod Paige,

U.S. secretary of education

"From the standpoint of education, we would have been better served had the court in `Brown' rejected the petitioners' arguments to overrule `Plessy vs. Ferguson.'"

Derrick Bell,

author of "Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform"

"In the end it may be that the true and lasting legacy of `Brown' has little to do with desegregation as such. It may instead be that `Brown' put us on a path that will, ideally, let us see children of color - and therefore our entire country - in a wholly new and beautiful light."

Ellis Cose,

contributing editor, "Newsweek"

"Throughout too much of America today, public schools remain burdened by the de facto segregation of our time, a racial division that, too often, is nearly as pronounced as legally mandated segregation was half a century ago. We remain, ladies and gentlemen, separate and unequal."

Elijah E. Cummings,

U.S. congressman from Maryland and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus

"We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of `separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."

Chief Justice Earl Warren,

U.S. Supreme Court, May 17, 1954

SOURCES: American School Board Journal; Sun staff; The Associated Press; The Stanford Report; Newsweek; Voice of America News

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